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The Most Unlucky People in Sports

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2014

The Most Unlucky People in Sports

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    We all know that sports have a bit of luck to them.

    Sometimes that luck is good, but often it seems that it ends up being bad.

    As a Cleveland sports fan, I can tell you that I've looked myself in the mirror a few times and wondered when the bad stuff would just end. With the selection of Johnny Manziel in this year's NFL draft, I'm hoping it turns the Browns franchise and the city's fortunes around—although I'm not putting too many expectations on it based on our history.

    My hometown teams might have really bad luck, but here are a few other people who are pretty damn unlucky as well.

Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Clippers

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Whether it's the franchise's miserable history—which until the past three playoff seasons included just two postseason appearances in 18 years—or the seemingly senile owner, Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers just can't catch a break.

    Of course, Sterling is under attack from everyone in the sports world following his racist comments a few weeks back. Then, just when it seemed it couldn't get worse for the Clips, they got jobbed by the refs in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The playoffs are tough enough to focus on without all these other distractions going on.

Yao Ming

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Man, remember when former NBA All-Star Yao Ming was the biggest thing to hit the league in over a decade?

    And I don't just mean that literally, as he stands 7'6".

    While Ming enjoyed an impressive career that saw him make eight NBA All-Star Games (making it in each year he played), grow the NBA globally and play on a few good Houston Rockets teams, he couldn't overcome the injury bug and was forced to retire a bit earlier than anyone would have hoped or expected from the multi-talented big man.

Marcus Lattimore

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    Mary Ann Chastain/Associated Press

    I had the privilege of sitting down with San Francisco 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore a few months ago, and I must say, the dude impressed me. The guy seems determined to overcome the injury setbacks he has had over the past few seasons, going back to his college days at South Carolina.

    But, unfortunately, that's why Lattimore is on this list—injuries.

    A first-round talent, he slipped all the way to the fourth round in 2013 because of his banged-up knees and now finds himself having to battle newly drafted running back Carlos Hyde for carries next season.

    Lattimore could have been a featured back if not for his injuries, but now he has to prove he's worth even keeping on the roster.

Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies Fans

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    John Bazemre/Associated Press

    At some point, is failing to make the playoffs as a No. 6, 7 or 8 seed better than being bounced in the first round?

    I'd imagine so, which is why the fans of both the Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies make this list.

    Sure, no one wants to endure a crappy season or hear the miserable word "rebuilding," but being a middle-of-the-road team in any sport is never a solid strategy in winning a championship.

Freddy Adu

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    It must be weird being just 24 years old and having people believe that you're a bust.

    Well, that's what has seemingly happened to former soccer prodigy Freddy Adu, who, in failing to live up to expectations as the savior of U.S. soccer after being signed to the MLS at just age 14, has been written off after a few caps with the national team a few years ago.

    In February, Adu was still holding out hope that he would be added to the roster for this year's World Cup. Unfortunately, U.S. men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his preliminary roster Monday, and Adu was not on the list.

Rick Adelman

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    David Sherman/Getty Images

    As I'll mention a little later on in this piece, playing or, in this case, coaching during the Chicago Bulls' reign in the 1990s was a real burden on a few future Hall of Fame figures in the NBA.

    In this case, recently retired Rick Adelman gets a mention.

    Coaching for 23 seasons, Adelman eclipsed 1,000 career wins, reached the postseason in all but seven of the years he led a team and took his teams to the NCA Conference Finals four times, twice reaching the championship round.

    Unfortunately, he often ran into a Phil Jackson-led team, meaning he found himself on the losing end more often than not in his quest to get a ring—even as great as he was.

Donovan McNabb

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In my personal opinion, former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb should be in the Hall of Fame one day—and some may agree.

    The one knock on McNabb during his playing days? Not winning a Super Bowl.

    Forget about the fact that he led his Philadelphia Eagles teams to five NFC Championship Games with one Super Bowl appearance—for whatever reason, McNabb is often forgotten amongst the better signal-callers of the past decade-plus.

    Because he was limited to just one title appearance, No. 5 finds himself as a bit unlucky, but he was still great.

Greg Oden

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    Don Ryan/Associated Press

    It's one thing for fans or media to debate the biggest flops in sports history, but it's completely different—and odd—when a player himself openly admits to being a huge bust.

    Just when you thought that former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden's luck had turned around after he joined the back-to-back champion Miami Heat, he has continued to fight off the knee injuries that gave him the bust label in the first place.

    Not helping Oden's case is the fact that the guy drafted right after him, Kevin Durant, has excelled since entering the league, even capturing this year's league MVP.

Netherlands World Cup Players

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    The saying "Always a bridesmaid and never a bride" might not apply to any team more than it does to the Netherlands' World Cup teams over the years.

    Traditionally known as one of soccer's most talented squads and consistently ranked high in the FIFA world rankings, the Netherlands have yet to ever win a World Cup title, having had to settle for runner-up finishes three times—in 1974, 1978 and 2010.

    The Flying Dutchmen will have another shot at this year's World Cup in Brazil, but with their past luck, don't expect things to go their way.

Tony Romo

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

    So you want to be the quarterback for arguably the most recognizable NFL franchise there is, huh? Well, you better be able to stand the criticism that comes along with it; otherwise you won't even stand a chance.

    All things considered, current Dallas Cowboys signal-caller Tony Romo has done admirably in holding his own in the face of the heat that fans and the media toss at him. But that doesn't mean he still isn't unlucky.

    Sure, Romo sucks in the clutch, but from botched holds on a field goal to untimely interceptions, it seems that things will always go wrong with Romo on the field and the game on the line.

Bo Jackson

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    Oh, man, what could have been?

    That's what many sports fans wonder when it comes to former MLB and NFL player Bo Jackson, because the guy was a physical freak who possessed athletic ability like no one had ever seen before.

    In fact, it'd actually unjust to even take the skills of current athletes and try to compare them to Jackson's skills, because he was that once-in-a-generation.

    With a number of never-before-seen plays, I wonder why he was hit with numerous injuries, which ended his career before it ever really began.

Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Much like the aforementioned Bo Jackson, future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.'s career didn't pan out the way it could have because of injuries.

    Don't get me wrong, it's hard to knock a guy who played 22 seasons, jacked 630 home runs and elevated the game with both his offensive and defensive skills, but Griffey could have been even better.

    Junior had a legit chance of breaking Hank Aaron's all-time home run record during the middle of his career, but he constantly found himself on the shelf after he hit 30.

    It's a shame, because as great as he'll be remembered as, Griffey could have been a top-five player in the sport.

Derrick Rose

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    In terms of current athletes, there might not be a more unlucky player in any sport than the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose.

    A former league MVP just a few seasons ago, the 2008 No. 1 pick has suffered serious knee injuries to both legs the past couple of years, forcing him to watch his squad from the bench instead of being the superstar who elevated it to a possible title run.

    Here's to hoping he overcomes this injury bug, gets back to full strength and returns to the form he has always shown.

Alex Ovechkin

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    A former No. 1 pick, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is a superstar in the NHL. But one thing many wouldn't refer to him as is a winner.

    That may come across as harsh, but since entering the league, Ovie has yet to even reach the Stanley Cup Finals, all too often padding his individual stats to collect on personal honors.

    As the Carmelo Anthony of the NHL, Ovechkin will continue to be unlucky until he finds a way to lead his team to a title. Sorry, superstars are graded on rings, not playoff appearances.

Nomar Garciaparra

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Former shortstop Nomar Garciaparra made six MLB All-Star games and hit .313 over his 14-year career, but like a few others on this list, he never won a ring.

    Technically speaking, he did receive one from his old team, the Boston Red Sox, when they won a title in 2004 after Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs. 

    While that seems like a bit of salt on an open wound, it's just the beginning of Garciaparra's luck, as he was the face of that franchise for years before the trade to the Windy City.

    Going from a team that hadn't won a world title in 86 years to the only other MLB franchise whose drought was even longer has to be mentioned as the No. 1 reason why Garciaparra was so unlucky.

Tiki Barber

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Rather than because of what he's doing now, former New York Giants great Tiki Barber is on this list for one reason only: because he retired too early.

    After topping Giants rushing charts over the course of his career, Barber seemed to lose his desire to play football. But it happened just a few months too soon, as the year he hung up his cleats, the G-Men went on to prevent history by preventing the New England Patriots from going undefeated and winning the Super Bowl.

    Of course, Barber doesn't think that team would have won with him, but that's a conversation for another day.

Anyone Playing for the Oakland Raiders

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Six.

    That's the number of times that the Oakland Raiders have held a top-10 pick in the NFL draft in the past 10 years.

    Of those selected, not one player has developed into a Pro Bowl player, with only four still registering stats for the franchise last season—and that includes the team's top rookie in 2013, cornerback D.J. Hayden.

    With seven coaches in 12 years and a penchant for less than mediocre front office moves, the Raiders are about as dysfunctional as it gets.

NBA Hall of Famers from the '90s Not Named Jordan or Pippen

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    John Swart/Associated Press

    I mentioned former head coach Rick Adelman as a guy who could never overcome the Chicago Bulls' playoff hump, but there were a number of former players—many whom are in the Hall of Fame—who never won a title because of guys named Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen.

    Sure, those two had a group around them that hit big shots and knew to keep quiet about shot selection, but MJ and Pip were primarily the guys who personally prevented dudes like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton, among others, from leaving the game with a ring on their finger.

Cleveland Sports Fans

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    That picture right there should be all you need to know about the pain Cleveland sports fans endure.

    In a league that heavily favors and demands a leader at the quarterback position, my beloved Brownies have failed to stick with one for very long.

    More than just the Browns, though, the entire city is cursed with inept decisions and indecision, as both the Cavaliers and Indians have seen their fair share of turnover in the past few seasons—in some cases, twice with the same coach.

    Look, I love the Indians and all, but when the city is abuzz because they landed the second Wild Card to host a play-in game last year—which, of course, they got shut out in—things are messed up.

Bill Buckner

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    Although the Boston Red Sox have collected three World Series rings since 2004, former Sox first baseman Bill Buckner is still remembered for one thing: his error against the New York Mets in 1986.

    While the city and its fans have come to grips with things now that the team is winning, for nearly 20 years, Buckner endured both internal and external stress because he was responsible for keeping the Curse of the Bambino intact.

    Thankfully, Buckner isn't looked at as the scapegoat any longer, but his career is still remembered for that one play rather than the solid 22 seasons he enjoyed.

Steve Bartman

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    In the history of sports, has there ever been a fan who has been blackballed from a baseball game by his fellow fans because of something he did?

    I doubt it—well, unless his name happens to be Steve Bartman.

    That's because Bartman—the soda-pop-glasses, turtleneck- and headphones-wearing Chicago Cubs fan—was nearly torn apart following his snagging of a foul ball during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, which then led to the demise of the Cubbies in the same inning, costing them the game and, eventually, the series.

    As the Cubs have failed to even reach the World Series since 1945—with their last win in 1908—Bartman, the person, is still just a ghost from the past.

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